Canada/Alaska Adventure | Entry #11

Happy Independence Day! July 4th can be a hard day to celebrate, with our nation as volatile and starkly divided as it is. But it is refreshing to put all of the politics aside for a day and gather together to celebrate our freedoms, and to honor those who came before us and made those freedoms a reality.IMG_0329eThe Independence Day festivities got a great start at high noon down by the Matanuska River, with a flyover by the Kingdom Air Corps, a local missionary aviation school, as a tribute to our veterans. Check out their website here. They particularly do work in Russia, reaching small, rural communities who have never heard the gospel. A really amazing mission.IMG_0255eIMG_0262eFollowing the flyover was the parade, featuring local horsemen, as well as the various souped-up, brightly-painted wrecker cars for the launch later. The lineup even included an old cop car, complete with siren and lights. Classy. IMG_0289eIMG_0280eIMG_0270eAfter the parade and the food, we all gathered for the event that really draws the crowd – The car launch. It is a totally redneck solution to having too much daylight for fireworks, and it is hilarious fun. The brightly-painted launch vehicles are driven to the top of a bluff and, simple: let fly off a cliff into a small pond at the bottom. Because why not? Who doesn’t get a kick out of watching vehicles hurtling wildly over a bluff, taking out a few trees on the way down? Six automobiles and a snow machine were launched. There’s some great video footage on The Alaska Life Facebook page.
IMG_0393eIMG_0380eIMG_0358e2There are lots of crazy and fun traditions surrounding our national freedom holiday. Some things have meaning behind the tradition, some are just plain fun. But what it all boils down to is that we are glad to be free, and we are thankful for our heritage of freedom, which we only enjoy because of the sacrifices of so many, past and present. And in spite of all that our nation is going through and has gone through, in spite of the hatred and vitriol, the violence, and our self-destructing culture (sorry, Debbie Downer here…but I can’t really state it any other way)…in spite of all that, there still is hope.  Truly. There still are people who believe in freedom as a God-given right, as a right that must be exercised alongside morality, and there still are those who are honorable, peace-loving, peace-seeking, and will fight for what they believe is right. God is not surprised by where our country is at. He is in complete control. God is still God.

“May we think of freedom, not as the right to do as we please, but as the opportunity to do what is right.”

~Peter Marshall

IMG_0308eIMG_0293eI hope you’ve had an encouraging, uplifting Independence Day, were able to spend time with family and friends enjoying Creation and being reminded of the Creator behind it all, the God who has blessed us so richly, in innumerable ways, and Who has given us freedoms here in this country which we enjoy and too often take for granted. But most importantly, God has presented to us the opportunity to gain spiritual freedom, through His Son Christ Jesus. That is true freedom, and it can never be taken away.

Happy Independence Day!

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Canada/Alaska Adventure | Entry #8

On a rainy, dreary day, the greenhouse really is a wonderful place to be. Comfortably warm inside, with fresh, cool air from the rainy outdoors. Rain plinking on the roof. We’ve had a lot of rain over the last two weeks, and the greenhouse happened to be in need of a spring cleaning. Spent a good part of yesterday afternoon organizing pots, flower tags, gardening tools, fertilizers…and drinking tea and listening to Adventures in Odyssey.
IMG_9559eIMG_9557eI’ve always thought gardening was a nice idea, and I’ve had a few gardening projects that were successful – mostly because they required no effort. Such as the 12-foot tall sunflowers and the moonflower vines that took over our porch. But I’ve always lived in places where heat and/or humidity were real barriers to my interest in that art and science. I can’t say I enjoy gardening when temps are in the 80s and 90s, and I’m sweating and tired and a little grouchy after pulling two weeds! But being able to spend hours in the garden or greenhouse, working with my hands, getting dirty and having dirt under my fingernails, having mud on my jeans, working hard and being appropriately tired, sweating because of the work, not because of the heat, having sore muscles and a wakened mind – that is hard to beat. IMG_9564eA lovely afternoon.

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Canada/Alaska Adventure | Entry #7

When Jenny and I headed out on the fourwheeler at 9pm last night, we had kind of expected a more leisurely spin. I’d never done any fourwheeling, so anything would have been fun for me! The trails we intended to ride on were reported to be in good condition and to have been recently repaired, to some extent. A fifteen minute drive got us to the old Glen Highway, and another ten minutes got us out into the real off-roading.IMG_9544The area was beautiful. The landscape, a boggy tangle of spongy moss and lichen and slender spruce, sprawled to the mountains, the tops of which were buried in clouds. The trail became more mountainous as we climbed towards the pass, crossing a few streams, taking alternate routes around the largest puddles, some of which were deceptively deep – we found out the hard way. On a number of occasions, we almost ended up stuck, which at a minimum would have been very embarrassing. A couple of the bad spots almost made us turn around, but then the road would get better so we’d keep on trucking! It was a gorgeous evening. Why turn around?

IMG_9546 We were never quite deterred until we got to a particularly steep spot requiring some tricky maneuvering. I hopped off to make the maneuvering easier for Jenny, and as I did, I got a whiff of that unmistakable smell of something big definitely dead. I mean, it wasn’t just a dead rabbit close by. “Jenny, do you smell that?” I asked uneasily, as the stench got stronger, at the time that she was processing the same thing. We both had the “Let’s turn around now” feeling, and did so as quickly as she could get the fourwheeler turned around on the muddy slope. We had a tense couple of minutes there on the slick, steep, rutted slope, with pretty thick brush and uneven terrain on either side of us, and poor visibility as a result. The turn around was challenging enough, but if we’d gone on any further, Jenny said we wouldn’t have been able to turn around until we reached the top of the trail. With a persistent creepy feeling, we headed back down the trail. That stench sticks with you, particularly when there’s a good chance the stench was from a grizzly cache. We would have felt at least a little better if we had brought a bigger gun.

I wasn’t quite able to shake the creepy feeling until we got back home at 11pm and warmed up with some hot tea. Nothing like that to get your heart pumping!

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The Singing Tree

A low droning caught my ear, as I was working outside today. It sounded like a whole swarm of wasps, of which we have plenty during the summer, but I couldn’t tell where it was coming from. I don’t like wasps. As I listened, I realized the humming was coming from the large tree by the old chicken coop. I thought there must be a wasp nest in the tree, or perhaps in the old tractor sitting out by the coop.
IMG_3905bIMG_3883bIMG_3880bUpon closer inspection, I saw that the tree was in bud, the spreading boughs covered with delicate mahogany flowers, and flitting daintily from flower to flower were the little glinting bodies and sparkling wings of honeybees. The source of the song. I have no idea how many were working, but they were creating quite the chorus of springtime music. What a harbinger of blessings to come!

Simple Joys

Winter is a time of brief, fleeting moments of dazzling beauty, of sights and sounds and silences that come and go with as little permanence as a snowflake, but with the brilliance of a diamond. That overwhelming moment is gone in an instant, leaving only the impression on one’s mind. The enchantment of the first snowfall melts in a few hours. The power of a blizzard wears itself out in a day. The snow cover of two months melts in two days. The leaden, snow-laden skies give way to cloudless blue, and winter breezes turn warm and then cold again. How changeable the season is!
IMG_2859eMom and I were able to thoroughly enjoy the delights of the changeable season today – It was strange to be hiking in short sleeves, with 70-degree temperatures and warm, sweet breezes, while trudging through 10-inch drifts and getting snow in our boots! Trixie, ever the snow puppy, pranced and raced and disappeared, entirely in her element. I would call her, only to look around and find her sprawled in a patch of snow, eating it and rolling in it and burying her face in it. A dog’s simple pleasures.
IMG_2877ePart of the delight of winter is the joy of seeing things in ways we aren’t accustomed to in the rest of the year, particularly in the summer and spring. Those months are full to bursting with new life, and my attention is so drawn from color to color, from the new blossom like stained glass in the sunlight to the bluebirds on the wire overhead to the new fawns with their unmistakable freckles to the brilliant blue of sky and green of grass. But in the winter, you have to look with different eyes. Then you can see the watercolor painting in the snowfall, the etched crystal work in the frosty window or frozen creek, the tapestry of spun gold in the grasses, the white jewels in the snowdrift.
IMG_2885eWe were nearing home, walking through an ancient creekbed, when we caught sight of an old bucket, rusted through and almost flattened, and nearby were a bunch of tin cans and some broken glass. I was thrilled. We had found a junk pile from the homesteading or mining days, of which our place saw a good deal! The whole property is pocketed with old mining pits, remnants of bygone days. We dug around a little in the grass, and found four intact glass jars and bottles, and a white enamel pot, which unfortunately is frozen stiff in the dirt. It looks to be in one piece. As soon as it warms up in the spring and the ground thaws out, I want to dig around and see what else was discarded! Who knows how many times we’ve walked past this junk pile in the summer and never saw it for the tall grass! IMG_2887eSimple joys on a glorious winter day.

Laura Elizabeth

Captivated

Truly, I can’t put my finger on it. The magic eludes me. I can see it, and revel in it, but I can’t name it. It is there in the quiet of the snowstorm – So many flakes falling, it should make a sound. But it doesn’t. It is there in the sigh of snow on snow, blowing in ghostly wisps across the road. It is there in the gentle kisses of snowflakes as they brush my cheeks and settle on my eyelashes and in my hair. It is there in the flurry of wind-whipped snow, and the hush, hush underfoot of fresh powder. New icicles glimmer coldly, diamond clear, from the edges of everything. Juniper trees bend beneath their load of white. I still don’t know what it is. IMG_1944eIMG_2156eIt is there in the taste of snow – Sweet and cold and clean, like the sky and air and spring-fresh water. Then there is the pale blue of a winter sky, above the pale almost-blue of the early morning snow. Then the sparkle, the blinding glitter the morning after a snowstorm. The light is more, is bigger, and colder, and more joyful, scattering in a trillion directions from a trillion points of light in the fields. “A million feathers falling down; A million stars that touch the ground.” Enya’s songs often come to mind. IMG_1835eWith snow falling thickly all around them, Dove and Timber wear blankets of white.  The cold bites and stings at the ends of my fingers and the tip of my nose, but they aren’t bothered by the cold, with their luxurious coats, shaggy and warm. Instead, they seem energized, by that something I can’t put my finger on. Timber prances around like a young colt, and even Dove, usually reticent and reserved, frolics after him. What is it that gets into their blood?IMG_2301eThe Kashka-Cat, black as coal, soft and small, carries herself confidently in the snow. She thinks she’s a house cat. But she isn’t. We try to tell her that, but she doesn’t listen. But sometimes she forgets herself, and we find her prowling about, entirely in her element.  IMG_1924eI still don’t know what it is about winter. My heart doesn’t thrill to the springtime or the summer the same way it does to the season of snow and ice. I can’t help but feast my eyes on the otherworldly brightness and beauty of fresh snow, of a world transformed. There is a deep delight in waking to a new snow, or driving on Hwy. 40 before the plow has touched it yet. The sunlight peeks over the hill, turning the landscape mirror-bright, highlighting every frond of last summer’s grass, glazed with frost or laden with snow. No two snowfalls are alike, and no two frost-covered mornings have the same magic. But they all have a beauty which is indescribable, a beauty which distracts and inspires and makes my heart sing. IMG_2299eWinter, of all seasons, captivates me.

Laura Elizabeth